Sarah: There’s nothing like a third child to amplify levels of parental guilt and anxiety.
After our first two children being born quite close together, we had a four-year breather and then rolled the dice once more.
The first child had my full attention until he was nearly two. Upon weaning, he enjoyed hand-picked,-slow-steamed-mashed-with-stainless-steel-organic-local-fruit-and-vegetables. I brushed his teeth with care and dedication, he enjoyed kinder-gym and swimming lessons from a young age, we built train tracks together and we went to the park regularly.
That child — now aged 11 — does not have a single problem with his teeth.
Child number three — who has enjoyed a busy, crazy, rushed existence since his arrival 5 years ago — went for his second routine dental checkup recently. A cavity was discovered.
Immediate feelings, so many feelings. I didn’t teach him to brush properly! I should have done more brushing myself! His diet is terrible! He is a poor neglected kid! I am a failure!
We arranged to see a specialist for the repair. As I weakly offered various mea culpa statements at our first appointment, she was pretty-much unmoved, saying offhand,
“Oh children with asthma are much more likely to have cavities.”
WHAT! Yes, he does suffer from asthma, and I know a lot about the condition; this association I was not aware of. With further questioning she explained it was probably a result of the drying effect of oral preventer ‘puffer’ medication on saliva (which is protective of teeth), an underlying difference in immunity associated with asthma and induced changes in immunity due to use of anti-inflammatory steroid puffers.
Not content with one point of view, I also looked it up. Yes, I found support in a comprehensive 2011 paper that reviewed the evidence from many other publications:
“Evidence from this analysis suggests that asthma doubles the risk of caries in both primary and permanent dentition.”
“Physicians and dentists should recommend preventive measures against caries for persons with asthma.”
Well that would have been nice to know earlier. But at least I’m not beating myself up quite so much now.
[image thanks to makelessnoise on flickr]